The Victorian government has revealed it will be making it free to study to become a nurse or midwife under a new initiative.
“We will pay their entire HECS debt,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters at the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) office in Melbourne.
Under the program, all new domestic students enrolling in a professional-entry nursing and midwifery course in 2023 and 2024 will receive a scholarship of up to $16,500 to cover course costs.
Students will receive $9,000 over their three years of study, and the remaining $7,500 would be paid off if they work in the Victorian public health services for two years.
Scholarships of $10,000 on average will also be handed to thousands of postgraduate nurses to complete studies in specialist areas, including intensive care, emergency, paediatrics and cancer care.
Other features of the package include:
- $11,000 scholarships for enrolled nurses to become registered nurses, covering course costs
- $12,000 scholarships for 100 new nurse practitioners in both acute and community settings
- More than $20 million to help growing numbers of graduates and postgraduates transition to work in hospitals
Andrews said the government has been working on the package for months, as hospitals across the state were buckling under the weight of the latest Covid-19 wave.
“Our hospital system is under very, very significant pressure, and that is due to a combination of factors,” he said.
Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said the opposition would match the commitment.
She said the Coalition would release its full staffing policy closer to the November state election.
"Daniel Andrews has had eight years to do this and has failed to do anything," she said.
"This government is bereft of ideas and are coming at this late time to make an announcement."
The opposition has also promised to shelve the Andrews government's multibillion dollar Suburban Rail Loop to redirect funding to build and upgrade hospitals in Melbourne and regional Victoria.
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